'Smart' technology has been weaponized against us

It’s no secret that I loathe smart technology. I cannot for the life of me fathom why anyone would voluntarily purchase something that monitors everything they do and reports it back to some central location. As the saying goes, “There is no Cloud. There’s just someone else’s computer.” It’s one of the many reasons my husband and I never owned smartphones and never will.

So when I saw this headline, I must admit I gave a little fist-pump and a cry of “Yes!!” According to ZeroHedge, “Dumb phone sales are soaring as people revolt against ‘overwhelming’ smartphones.” Isn’t that the best news you’ve heard all day?

The article focuses on the inexpensive nature of dumb phones as well as the nostalgia factor, but who cares? In my opinion, the more people who dump the invasive “eye of Sauron in your pocket,” the better.

Having a dumb phone is a smart idea. It’s nice to have a way to call AAA for roadside emergencies, or stay in touch with family members while traveling – in other words, the true purpose of a mobile phone.

But smart technology has become so invasive over the years that it seems people are finally waking up to the loss of privacy. While sales figures are hard to find, apparently global purchases of dumb phones were due to hit 1 billion units last year, up from 400 million in 2019. A 2021 study in the U.K. suggests one in 10 mobile phone users have a dumb phone. Woot!

“If aliens came to earth, they’d think that mobile phones are the superior species controlling human beings,” says one dumb-phone manufacturer. “And it’s not going to stop, it’s only going to get worse. Consumers are realizing that something is wrong, and we want to offer an alternative.”

It’s not just phones, of course. It’s all smart technology. We’re lured into the ease and convenience of smart technology in our homes and vehicles, only to discover something very important: Smart technology can be used against you. Big reveal, right?

Remember when a Google glitch caused thousands of people to be locked out of their homes? Lights or appliances wouldn’t work, and people were left sitting in the dark and wondering why they ever thought smart technology was the way to go.

We’re surrendering the most intimate details of our lives to smart technology: wristwatches that monitor our heartbeat, toilets that analyze our “anal print,” mattress pads that track our bedroom activities … the list of invasive technology is endless.

But then the Jan. 6 protest occurred, and suddenly it became apparent how dangerous the Internet of Things really is. The iron fist of tyranny was revealed beneath the velvet glove of smart technology. Even the most tangential and remote connection to the rally was enough to bring down the full wrath of the criminal government.

The same thing happened when Canadian truckers decided to make a run for Ottawa. People who had donated as little as $40 toward the Freedom Convoy found their bank accounts frozen. Some were fired from their jobs. Without anything as old-fashioned as due process, what should have been considered a private matter – donating a sum of money toward a cause – was reclassified as a crime.

“The fact that weaponizing the financial system against nonviolent protesters and their distant supporters was the government’s tool of first resort should worry anyone who understands the role of civil disobedience in democracy,” notes Howard Anglin with Oxford University.

And that’s my gripe with smart technology: It’s too easy to weaponize. It’s no longer necessary to physically incarcerate political enemies. Why bother, when a few strokes on a keyboard will send them to digital jail?

The financial system is just one aspect. If the government is really ticked at you, it wouldn’t take much to shut down your car, your phone, your locks, your lights, your appliances, your mattress pad, your toilet … do you see where I’m going with this? You would become socially paralyzed. “Databit by databit,” warns John Whitehead, “we are building our own electronic concentration camps.”

And it’s silent. If a government opens fire on its citizen, it rightly makes international headlines. But digital death is stealthy. “The government’s action is troubling enough, but what should really disturb us is the ease and invisibility with which it is being done,” writes Anglin. “But less visible doesn’t necessarily mean less severe. There’s more than one way to ruin someone’s life. … [I]n a world of non-custodial money (money that can’t be stashed under your mattress or buried in your backyard), freezing someone’s financial resources effectively locks them out of society. [The] message is: don’t be fooled into thinking because a non-physical sanction happens somewhere in the unreality of cyberspace that the consequences are similarly virtual. They are very real and very severe.”

No wonder every government on the planet is straining toward a cashless society. Think of the power! Government and corporate spying can track you based on your face, your health status, your behavior, your spending and consumer activities, your public activities, your social media activities, your phone and online activities, your social network, your car, your mail and probably other things not included in this list.

Ironic, isn’t it, how the lyrics from the song “Every Breath You Take” (by the aptly named group The Police) turned out to be so prescient: “Every breath you take / Every move you make / Every bond you break / Every step you take / I’ll be watching you. Every single day / Every word you say / Every game you play / Every night you stay / I’ll be watching you. Oh can’t you see / You belong to me?”

“[T]his is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, probation officer, Big Brother and Father Knows Best all rolled into one,” concludes Whitehead.

And this, dear readers, is why I’m thrilled to hear about the increasing popularity of dumb phones.

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